Cost-effective routine measurement of tomato flavor

Model with instrumental parameters for sensory attributes that predicts tomato flavor.

Tomato flavor has been characterized by a combination of various aromatic compounds, sugars and acids and these parameters can to a certain degree characterize the flavor. But fruit texture also plays a role in the perception of these substances during eating. Sensory data indicate that the flavor compounds should not only be present in the fruit tissue but that these should also be released during chewing. The inclusion of texture parameters in flavor measurements has proven to be useful to characterize tomato flavor. A combination allows for a quick and cost-effective method for routine screening of tomato flavor in the complete chain from breeding, growing, shipping to selling tomatoes.

Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture constructed a model with instrumental parameters for sensory attributes that predicts tomato flavor with an accuracy of 4 points on a scale of 0 - 100. The model predicts that flavor is best in fruits with a high Brix value, a high acidity and a high juice percentage, whereas the fruit wall may be firm, but only in combination with a certain bite and juiciness. The recently updated model is now used by different chain partners on a regular basis for routine measurements of tomato flavor. Breeders use the model to screen flavor levels early in the breeding chain. Growers use the data to choose the right varieties for their customers. Growers, together producing for a single brand, use the model plus factor analysis of growing conditions to fine tune their blueprint for tomato production. So the model is used as a tool for achieving homogeneity within a brand. Wholesalers and retail have also started to use the model results for facilitating B2C communication on flavor levels.